By iAngels founder, Mor Assia
For some time now we have been tracking the developments of Artificial Intelligence, watching as the technology has matured and the amount of mergers and acquisitions have steadily increased. As such, we will over the next few months be sharing a series of articles, focused on AI, starting with part 1: an overview of some big movements in the AI market.
LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) is a big player in remote management for individuals, small businesses, IT professionals, and help-desk managers. They have made waves for recent large moves like a merger with Citrix valued at $1.8bn. The acquisition of one of our portfolio companies, Nanorep, is LogMeIn’s first acquisition of an Israeli company, following which they intend to open an R&D center in Tel Aviv. And it certainly looks as if their attention to the Israeli high tech scene will certainly increase overtime.
Nanorep’s acquisition for $45m is the latest M&A move in a space that has been full of action. This dynamic is reflective of a larger trend as tech companies charge forward in pursuit of AI bots capable of productive conversation.
Google launched an API for Virtual Assistant, which means that software developers all over the world can now connect remotely and develop additional capabilities, applications and bots on top of Google’s virtual assistant, which is supported by all mobile phones with Google’s operating system. As the world now burrows into the age of Artificial Intelligence, Google have made it clear that they see AI sitting at the heart of the next big shift in computing, which they predict will take place over the next 10 years.
IBM’s Watson, is a supercomputer that combines AI and analytics software to create a robust ‘question answering’ machine. It’s using AI technology to penetrate more deeply into one’s life thanks to a collaboration with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia where they’ve started to create smart hospital rooms that aim to optimise medical outcomes. It’s predicted that the number of IoT devices globally will triple by 2020 to about 35 billion creating the next industrial revolution. As such, Watson is coming in hard into the mid-market and are reducing prices in order to better compete.
Salesforce has come out with Einstein, positioning it as ‘AI for everyone’. By targeting productivity, Salesforce are trying to remove AI layers of complexity to enable companies to deliver smarter customer success and CRM strategies. Facebook’s massive effort and investment into Messenger has caused an overall paradigm shift and accelerated further consolidation in the market. As Facebook announces yet another acquisition in the space, with Palo Alto based AI startup, Ozlo (whose technology understands text-based conversations and is able to answer complex questions without deterministic answers), it at the same time announced that it had closed an AI system that was launched earlier in the year. Why? Well, due to unruly bots that had started to converse in an unknown language, outside scripted norms and without human input. While these type of capabilities are a huge step for AI, several experts, including Stephen Hawking, have raised fears that humans could one day soon be superseded by the intelligence of AI.
While these giants are making their moves, it is the perfect setting for many startups to find synergies between formed strategies, presenting more opportunity for growth and acquisition.
The following timeline outlines a few significant acquisitions in this segment over the past few months:
This exciting market is projected to have even more M&A activity to come over the next 1 to 2 years and while it is still unclear where AI will lead us in the short term, we are not all that far off from conducting full conversations with our Uber or Virtual Physician.